Protecting Yourself While Traveling with Debit & Credit Cards

Practicing safe debit and credit card habits can help protect you and your family from theft and fraud while on vacation.

Practicing safe debit and credit card habits can help protect you and your family from theft and fraud while on vacation.

 

Summer is a popular time to take a vacation and travel to new places.  Since traveler’s checks have become a thing of the past, the easiest way to bring cash on your vacation is by using a credit or debit card.  Although using plastic is more convenient while on your vacation, the risk of theft or loss can often be greater.

Whether you are traveling a few hours away or planning a major trip through Europe, Alpine Bank wants you to know how to travel safely with your credit and debit cards.

  • Contact your bank before you leave to let them know you will be traveling with your credit or debit card.  It is important to include where you will be going as well as how long.  If you don’t let us know this information, we may suspect the activity on your account is theft, not you having fun on your vacation!
  • Always keep your credit/debit card in a safe compartment. Whether you are staying within the country or going overseas, always keep your card in a secure bag or wallet.  Invest in a quality bag/wallet that can be zipped shut, or a front pocket wallet for extra protection against pickpockets.
  • Set up a travel specific account with your bank.  It might be beneficial to have a special travel card set up to a separate travel account, in case of an unfortunate theft or loss while on vacation.  A travel account would minimize your risk of total loss.

While on vacation, you should be relaxing and having fun!  Properly preparing your credit/debit cards will help you have the vacation that you deserve this summer.  As always, Alpine Bank is here for you if you have any more questions about traveling safely with credit and debit cards.

Feel free to give us a call or stop in any time!

 

Alpine Bank

Member FDIC

Equal Housing Lender

Alpine Bank Announces Junior Golfers for Pro-Am Foursome

Playing golf, ball on tee and golf club. Vintage, retro styleAlpine Bank has selected four up and coming golfers to play in the Alpine Bank foursome at this year’s Rockford Pro-Am on Monday, July 13, 2015. Alpine Bank is pleased to announce that its foursome will include: Adam Norwood, Jesse Slattery, Harrison Engelbrecht, and Carson Racich.

Alpine Bank returns this year as a prime sponsor of the Rockford Pro-Am. The bank is choosing to fill its foursome with young, aspiring golfers, giving them the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play in such a prestigious event alongside golf professionals. In April of this year, the bank extended a special invitation to young golfers to apply to play in the Alpine Bank foursome. The application process involved an application where applicants noted their golf skill/ability, extracurricular activities and a personal statement explaining how playing at the Rockford Pro-Am would benefit them. In addition, each applicant was asked to submit a one-page letter of recommendation from a non-family member (i.e. coach, teacher, mentor, etc.). Fifteen junior golfers from the area applied to play. A selection committee reviewed the applications.

“I would like to thank all of the young golfers who applied.  There skill levels were very impressive and any one of them would’ve made a great addition to our team.” said Matt Roegner, executive vice president of Alpine Bank.

In the coming weeks, Alpine Bank will choose the PGA Pro Golfer who will play alongside these talented individuals.  Last year’s foursome, with Kenny Perry, took first place in the tournament, marking the first time our foursome has taken that honor.

Alpine Bank will be hosting a special luncheon for the foursome players, as a special thank you and to become acquainted with one another.  Following the luncheon, the players will be treated to a round of golf at Rockford Country Club.

About Rockford Pro-Am 
Beginning in 1977, The Rockford Pro-Am is the nation’s longest-running, free-standing pro-am not associated with a professional tournament. This year it will be held at Rockford Country Club on Monday, July 13, 2015, and will feature amateur foursomes paired with professional golfers. The foursomes play in a best-ball handicapped format, while the pros keep straight 18-hole scores. Cost is $10 and tickets are available at the gate. For more information, visit www.therockfordproam.com.

About Alpine Bank
Alpine Bank is a locally owned financial institution serving Winnebago, Boone, and DeKalb counties with a total of 15 locations in Rockford, Belvidere, Cherry Valley, Kirkland, Loves Park, Machesney Park, and Roscoe, Illinois. Founded in 1908, Alpine Bank offers a variety of financial products and services for consumers, small businesses, agricultural businesses and commercial companies and provides investment and financial services through Alpine Trust & Investment Group. Alpine Bank is committed to being a bank you can actually like. For more information, visit www.bankalpine.com.

Creating Your First Budget

Organizing your finances as early as possible can help you begin to build wealth and avoid debt.

Organizing your finances as early as possible can help you begin to build wealth and avoid debt.

 

So, you’ve graduated college, got the job, and now have a steady income.  Congrats! For many, setting up bank accounts, starting for retirement, and investing can seem like the most confusing thing in the world.  However, it is very important to start learning how to spend your money BEFORE you even have it.  In other words, create a budget!

Don’t worry, Alpine Bank is here to help you get started.  Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating that first budget.

  1. Find out where your money is currently going. Identify your income and what you have to spend, identify what you currently spend your income on, and identify what you needto spend your income on.  This may take you a while to figure out and can get frustrating, but stick with it. Thankfully, there are many checklists out there that can help you easily organize this part of the budget.
  2. Evaluate your long-term financial goals and big purchases that are soon to come.  Retirement is huge here!  Although that is years away, the sooner you start saving the more time it has to grow.  Also, are you planning on buying a house within the next 10 years? Want a new car? This is where you can start saving and planning for big purchases and invest in your long term goals.
  3. Create an emergency fund.  An emergency fund can help cushion the blow for those unexpected events that tend to happen.  Car repairs and home repairs can be unexpected costs that an emergency fund can help cover.  An Alpine Bank representative can also help to get your emergency account set up.
  4. Stay on Track!  It will be difficult at first.  Learning to stay on a budget is hard work, but it will help you to reach your financial goals and be in control of your money.  Keep this in mind: if you do the things you need to do when you need to do them, then later you can do the things you want to do when you want to do them.

Many households in the United States spend more than they even make and create bad financial habits.  Don’t let this be you!  Alpine Bank can help your manage your money by setting up the new accounts you may need.  Don’t wait any longer, stop in today!

 

Alpine Bank

Member FDIC

Equal Housing Lender

How to Save Money While You Move

week 4 post 2

Moving to a new home is an exciting time! Whether you are going through a career change, personal life change or just want to try something new, there are big changes ahead. Moving can also be expensive. We aren’t just talking about the mortgage or insurance, but the expenses of physically moving can really add up, especially when you have a lot of possession accumulated. Alpine Bank has some strategies that you can use to cut back on costs:

De-clutter: The time before a big move is the perfect time to go through your stuff and figure out what you need to keep and what can be sold. When selling items, Craigslist is a good place to sell larger items. eBay is more powerful for small or collector’s items. Yard sales and consignment shops are also great ways to get rid of larger bulk items like clothes and furniture.

Avoid hiring movers: Moving services can be expensive. Instead of dropping cash on movers, look into what you would need to move on your own. Do you have friends who would be willing to help for a day? Treating some friends to dinner after loading up a rental truck is a much cheaper option than paying someone to load the truck for you.

Strategize utility and service shutoffs: Many utilities require you to pay for a full month’s services at a time. If one of the services isn’t essential, cut it off before you leave rather than after so you aren’t pay for something that you aren’t using. This means you need to plan ahead and contact your service companies more than a month before your move-out date.

Be smart about finding moving boxes: As soon as you decide to move, start saving any cardboard boxes and packing materials that you can get your hands on. There are several places in your community, such as liquor stores, bookstores and grocery stores that will usually have free boxes laying around.

Moving is a stressful time and you may not have the time to use all of these strategies. But getting organized and planning ahead could help you save a bundle of money and your sanity. For more tips about the housing market, saving money and more, talk to a friendly staff member at Alpine Bank.

Money Advice for High School Graduates

week 3

A large number of American students graduate from high school without knowing the basics of managing their money wisely. Their first step is often to take on a student loan to pay for college without understanding the scope of that debt. Whether your graduate plans to attend college, enter the working world, travel or join the military, all young people should know these basic personal finance rules.

Track your spending – Too often, people will spend mindlessly as long as there is money in their account. However, these are usually the people that can’t pay their bills at the end of the month. Keeping track of where you spend your money allows you to understand where you money has gone and where you can cut back.

Create a budget – Once you know where your money is going, creating a budget will help you designate where you want it to go. If you make a reasonable budget and stick to it, you won’t have to worry about not having enough money at the end of the month.

Earn compound interest – When you start to save or invest money, it earns interest. That interest can earn interest as well over time. This is why it is a good idea to start saving as soon as you can. Even if you can only save $5 or $10 a week, that money will add up over time.

Use cash – Research has shown that we are more careful with our money when we are handing over card than when we swipe a credit or debit card. If you do choose to use credit, never spend more on that card than what you can pay off at the end of the month. That will get you into even more problems with debt in the future.

If your child just graduated from high school, teach them what you can about what it means to manage money wisely. For help starting up a checking account, savings account, Online Banking or another financial tool, talk to Alpine Bank.

Alpine Bank Adds 55,000 Surcharge-Free ATMs

Allpoint-GrnYel-cmykAlpine Bank has joined Allpoint Network, which means Alpine Bank customers now have access to America’s largest surcharge-free ATM network, with some 55,000 surcharge-free ATMs worldwide.Allpoint Network is an affiliate of Cardtronics, Inc. (NASDAQ: CATM), the world’s largest retail ATM owner.

In addition to Alpine’s branch locations and ATMs, with Allpoint Network, our customers will never be far away from surcharge-free ATM access to their cash, especially in the United States where Allpoint offers 43,000 cash machines in places they’re already visiting as part of their daily routine. Conveniently located in destination retail outlets including major discount retailers, convenience, grocery and pharmacy stores, Allpoint Network ATMs save customers of Alpine Bank time as well as ATM fees.

“By becoming an Allpoint Network member, in an instant Alpine Bank grows its surcharge-free ATM locations to more than double that of even some of the largest banks,” said John Vanderheyden, executive vice president of Operations for Alpine Bank.  “People want a financial service provider that delivers the most convenient account access and management options, and that includes access to their cash.  With Allpoint, we can meet that need.”

How to find Allpoint NetworkAlpine Bank customers looking for the nearest surcharge-free Allpoint ATM—including 12,000 locations in Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, Australia—can do so with their smartphone using the free Allpoint Network ATM locator app. And once at the store hosting an Allpoint ATM, look for the green Allpoint logo.

Allpoint Network resources:

About Allpoint

Allpoint Network is the largest surcharge-free ATM network with more than 55,000 ATMs in leading national and regional merchant locations across the United States, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom and Australia.  Allpoint provides greater access, convenience and savings to customers of financial institutions while providing institutions the tools to compete more effectively for customers. For more information or to find the nearest Allpoint surcharge-free ATM, please visit www.AllpointNetwork.com, like us on Facebook and follow @Allpoint on Twitter. Allpoint Network is an affiliate of Cardtronics, Inc. (NASDAQ: CATM)

Thinking of Purchasing an Older Home? Read This First!

Week4Post1

Have you ever heard someone say “They don’t build them like they used to” when it comes to talking about old cars, appliances and homes? Whether it’s the style they were built in, the identifying features or other characteristics, there’s just something about living in an older home that has a unique history behind it.

 

However, old homes can also cause difficulties if you aren’t careful. If you are looking into purchasing an older home this spring, here are some pros and cons to consider from your friends at Alpine Bank.

 

Pros:

 

Location – Older homes were built first so they are often situated close to the action.

Cost – This is usually assumed, but you will typically pay less for an older home than a newer one of the same size.

Long-term investments – Check with other home owners in the area to see how much their home values have changed in the past decade. Old homes are often limited in supply, yet high in demand so the value may rise.

Availability – An older home is ready to be lived in. You don’t need to wait for a builder to put finishing touches or delays in the building schedule.

 

Cons:

 

Roots – Old homes often have older trees in the yard. These trees have long and deep roots that can cause problems with your foundation or plumbing systems.

Out-of-date building codes – Checkold heating, plumbing and wiring systems to make sure they are up to modern codes, along with the chimneys and windows.

Places to put your stuff – People didn’t own as much stuff when older homes were built as we do now. This means that closets and storage spaces may be smaller than what you are used to.

 

When you are looking at houses, don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions! Purchasing a new home is a big decision, so don’t leave any stone unturned.

 

The mortgage bankers at Alpine Bank can help you find the mortgage solutions you need to get your ideal home, old or new. Give them a call to get started with a free loan consultation today!

 

Foundations of Financial Literacy

Week3Post1

Do you remember when you were learning how to read? When you were just starting, you probably didn’t like to practice very much. However, when you had an understanding of the words and became literate, reading probably became more fun! Just like when you learned to read, learning to be financially literate takes some practice. However, you will be thankful when you have an understanding of how to wisely manage your money.  In order to become financial literate, you must understand some principles of financial literacy. We will talk about four foundational principles in today’s blog.

The Difference between an Asset and a Liability

An asset is anything that puts money in your pocket. A liability is anything that takes money out of your pocket. To illustrate the difference, we will use your home as an example. Many people think of their house as an asset. This isn’t really true because your home takes money out of your pocket each month in the form of taxes, maintenance, etc. But if you own rental properties, tenants pay rent, maintenance costs, taxes, and more. This is money going into your pocket each month, making these properties an asset.

Cash Flow versus Capital Gains

When investing for capital gains, you invest your money and hope that the price will go up. The problem with this is that you don’t have any control over whether or not the price goes up. Investing for cash flow gives you more control over your income. For instance, you could buy investment real estate, have tenants to pay the expenses, and collect rent each month. This makes it an asset. If there are capital gains in the end, that is a bonus.

Using Debt to get Richer

Debt isn’t typically viewed as a money maker. However, it can be used to create wealth. There are two kinds of debt – good and bad. Bad debt comes from borrowing money for liabilities such as using credit cards to buy big TVs or borrowing a line of credit on your home. This is the debt you want to stay away from. Good debt is used to purchase assets. Think of our previous example of purchasing rental property. When you purchase that property using the bank’s money, you can collect money from your tenant to pay off debt and then pocket the profit.

Learn How to Make Your Own Financial Decisions

If you aren’t confident in your financial knowledge, ask experts for help. They will help you learn how to make financially intelligent decisions that can give you the confidence to think for yourself. The wisdom needed to be financially literate only comes from the desire to learn about what courses of action are best.

April is Financial Literacy Month and Alpine Bank wants to help all of our customers gain a fuller understanding of wise financial decisions. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Alpine Bank Accepting Monetary Donations for Tornado Victims

road to recoveryAt Alpine Bank, our thoughts continue to be with the victims of last Thursday’s tornadoes.  We have many employees and customers affected by this disaster.

Therefore, we have partnered with the Village of Kirkland to establish funds for victims of tornadoes that ravaged the Kirkland/Fairdale area on Thursday, April 9.  A Go Fund Me account has been set up and can be found at http://www.gofundme.com/rk72t88r.  Alpine Bank will cover the administrative costs of the fund, allowing 100% of all monetary donations to be distributed directly to the families.

Accounts have also been established at Alpine Bank to aid affected residents.  You can stop into any of our 15 branches and make a donation.  You may also mail a donation to:

Alpine Bank
Fairdale Relief Fund
PO Box 280
Kirkland, IL 60146

According to the Village of Kirkland’s Tornado Recovery Information page, donations of goods are no longer being accepted, since there is no room left to store these items.  However, monetary donations will continue to be accepted.

If you have any questions, please contact the Village of Kirkland at 815.522.6179 or visit their website at http://villageofkirkland.com.

What to Do with Your Tax Refund

Are you getting some money back from Uncle Sam this year? We have some wise ways you can spend that extra cash.

Are you getting some money back from Uncle Sam this year? We have some wise ways you can spend that extra cash.

Whether you are ready for it or not, tax season is upon us! While this time of year makes most of us want to let out a groan, there is a bright side to remember: you may be getting a refund.

You may want to start looking at making some kind of big purchase with the money, you need to step back and look at the big picture. Getting a tax refund is an opportunity to better your financial situation and make wise decisions. If you just waste the money that you get back, what was the point in getting it back in the first place?

If you’re fortunate enough to receive a tax refund this year, consider putting it towards one of these suggestions from Alpine Bank. These will benefit your family and start you on a good financial path for the rest of the year.

Make home improvements- Whether it is a minor do-it-yourself fix or a major project, keeping your home updated will increase its value and also prevent future problems from occurring. This will mean more cash for you if or when you decide to put your home on the market.

Make extra payments- Making extra payments on your mortgage, credit card debt or loans may not be fun, but it will save you money in the form of less interest down the road. Plus, you will have all of your debts paid off sooner!

Put it away for your kids’ college education- College tuition is always rising and this trend doesn’t look like it will be stopping anytime soon. Consider setting aside some extra money into an education savings account.

Contribute to your retirement fund- If you are looking towards long-term goals, contributing to your retirement account is a good way to ensure that you feel secure when you are done working.

Build your emergency fund- Your emergency fund should have at least three months’ worth of living expenses saved up in it. If you have had to dip into your emergency fund lately, this is the time to start rebuilding it.

Which of these ideas do you think would benefit you most?  If you are looking for some advice about saving now or later down the road, contact Alpine Bank. We would love to talk it over with you!